The Ann Maguire Gala, stuffed full of many Royal Ballet and other dancers, takes place at the Leeds Grand Theatre on Sunday, 3 September at 19:30. The proceeds go to support the Ann Maguire Arts Education Fund – read on for details of the gala and the good works done by the fund…
Your mum was special – tell us about her and the Ann Maguire Arts Education Fund…
My mum was a very special person, her kindness towards others, her selfless nature and her boundless energy made her unique. She brought a lightness and a security to my life as a child yet instilled in me the drive and determination that has stood me in good stead throughout my career so far. She was also an exceptional and much-admired school teacher. The love and energy she brought to her work was tangible and her understanding of the full range of problems facing young people was unique. She never let today’s failures hinder tomorrow’s opportunity to improve. The Fund was set up to continue her work of educating, nurturing and supporting young people. The primary objectives of the fund are to encourage and, importantly, facilitate young people to enhance their own development through arts education.
This year’s fund raising gala is in your home town of Leeds, at the great Leeds Grand – so what’s on the bill and where are all your dancers coming from?
It is very fitting to hold this year’s Gala at the Leeds Grand Theatre as it is somewhere that my mum was herself a frequent audience member and also where she took my sister Kerry and I to see our very first ballet performance. The Gala line-up is very exciting; hosted by Wayne Sleep we have 16 dancers from the Royal Ballet who will be performing some Gala favourites: Le Corsaire, the White Swan pas de deux, Concerto pas de deux, Meditation from Thais and Voices of Spring, as well as more contemporary works by Christopher Wheeldon, Liam Scarlett, Will Tuckett and Alastair Marriott. Dreda Blow and Giuliano Contadini from Northern Ballet will perform the final pas de deux from Jonathan Watkins’ award-winning adaptation of 1984, Bradley Waller from BalletBoyz is performing a new work that has been specially created for the Gala with Royal Ballet’s Principal Character Artist Kristen McNally. Steven McRae is performing his knockout tap solo accompanied by violinist Vasko Vassilev. We are thrilled to have the Manchester Camerata Orchestra conducted by Paul Murphy to accompany the evening’s divertissements and special guest performances by Max Cookward, a past grant recipient of the Fund and the Leeds Youth Chorus.
It’s a huge thing to organise a gala – how do you make it all happen and when did you start organising it?
I started planning the Gala last September; with so many different aspects of the event to consider and organise I would say that the more time you have to plan the better!
It is a huge team effort and I have a wonderful ‘Gala Team’ as well as my colleagues at the Royal Opera House who have volunteered their time and various talents to help make this event possible, I really couldn’t do this without them. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to hold this special evening to honour my mum in her home town and to raise awareness for the Fund which has been set up in her memory.
The Arts Education Fund has been running for about 3 years now – can you tell us about some of the good things it’s been able to help achieve?
Over the past 3 years through its annual grant scheme the fund has supported many talented individuals and sponsored community-based projects which have given hundreds of young people in Yorkshire the chance to explore and engage in the arts through music, dance and drama, all passions close to my mum’s heart. The community projects are aimed at those with little exposure or contact with the arts. As an arts education fund, we wish to give young people the opportunity to experience the arts and, crucially, to enable them to discover their own artistic potential.
Here are just two examples of community projects which we have supported to date:
The No Bystanders was a project that explored a range of difficult issues and emotions facing young people and encouraged them to deal with and express themselves through poetry, lyrics and song writing for the pieces that were to be performed for the Chapel FM live broadcast and recording day at the end of the project. The young people were immersed in every aspect of the creative journey from lyric writing, rehearsing the pieces to the technical side of running a radio station for the 24 hours live broadcast from the Chapel FM where these talented musicians and writers performed their pieces. It was a wonderful project to support and witness these young people become so involved in every aspect of the performance while dealing with some very difficult social issues.
The Primary Players led by West Yorkshire Playhouse were awarded funding to deliver the community and school element of their Romeo and Juliet production outreach programme. The project involved 150 pupils from 3 primary schools in different areas of Leeds to take part in school workshops, pre-show talks, free tickets for young people and drama workshops.
Following six weeks working in schools with teachers and their pupils, the pupils Primary performed Romeo and Juliet on West Yorkshire’s Playhouse’s biggest auditorium, the 750 seat Quarry.
“For the last four years, Primary Players has encouraged children, no matter their ability or experience, to tackle Shakespeare and the stage with confidence and enthusiasm. The lasting memory for those sat in the audience on 5th July was of the power of the children’s voices as they totally owned the performance. ” Amy Lancelot, Creative Education Manager.
If I could take this opportunity to thank everybody who has supported the fund over the past three years: it is through people’s very generous donations and fundraisers that we can look forward to supporting many more young people getting directly involved in the arts, and securing a better future for all.
What’s your motto in life?
Leave every task knowing you’ve done your best
Ann Maguire Gala Programme
Leeds Grand Theatre on Sunday, 3 September 2017 at 19:30
Concerto pas de deux
Choreorgaphy by Kenneth MacMillan
Sarah Lamb and Ryoichi Hirano
Clair de lune – UK Premiere
Choreography by Alastair Marriott
White Swan pas de deux from Swan Lake
Choreography by Marius Petipa
Fumi Kaneko and Nicol Edmonds
Artists of BalletBoyz
Asphodel Meadows – pas de deux
Choreography by Liam Scarlett
Laura Morera and Ryoichi Hirano
Choreography by Jonathan Watkins
Dreda Blow, Giuliano Contadini
Voices of Spring
Choreography by Frederick Ashton
Yuhui Choe, Alexander Campbell
Aeternum – pas de deux
Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon
Claire Calvert and Reece Clarke
Quizás – World Premiere
Laura Morera and Ricardo Cervera
ThaÏs – pas de deux
Choreography by Frederick Ashton
Itziar Mendizabal and Nicol Edmonds
Choreography by Steven McRae
Choreography by Marius Petipa
Akane Takada and Marcelino Sambé
Additional programming to be confirmed and do note that the programme and dancers can change.